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Activists Petition Harare Mayor Over Wetlands Preservation

Ten environmental activists have submitted a petition to Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume, urging the Harare City Council to take immediate action in preserving the vital wetlands within the Upper Manyame Catchment Basin.

The petition underscores the critical importance of these wetlands, which play a significant role in providing essential services such as water provisioning, purification, storage and regulation, flood mitigation, and carbon storage.

“Worried that there is continuous construction of buildings on wetlands by both land barons and those officially allocated by council; urban agriculture on wetlands with accompanying fertilizer applied by big companies through “demonstration plots”; illegal sand poaching on wetlands; 10,563 residential houses and planned settlements falls within the areas within Harare that were declared ecologically sensitive,” wrote the environmentalists

As a way of addressing these pressing issues, the petitioners proposed several recommendations for the Harare City Council to consider.

“Now therefore your petitioners beseech the Harare City Council to exercise its representative, oversight and administrative role on wetlands preservation by: i. Updating the Harare Master Plan and local area plans in view of General Notice 2119 of 2022 issued by the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry in terms of Section 113(1) of the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20:27) as read together with designated Ramsar Sites within Harare to ensure wetlands in Harare are protected to the maximum extent.

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“Strongly considering community stewardship through Community Based Organizations looking after wetlands adjacent to their communities. This is in light of the spirit of public participation. Developing climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience by-laws anchored on, among other issues, Ecosystem Based Adaptation. The by-laws should include review of the current water by-law and development of a wetlands by-law,” the petitioners said

The petition further suggests the creation of a procedures manual for the issuance of development permits, outlining a clear order of priorities and ensuring compliance with the law.

 Additionally, the activists urge the establishment of a land bank for the city, with ecologically sensitive areas visibly marked to prevent unauthorized construction, agriculture, or sand mining.

The activists also highlighted the importance of implementing the recommendations outlined in the Auditor General’s report on wetlands covering the period 2014 to 2019, as well as the recommendations made by the City of Harare Environment Management Committee.

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